Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Oct 21 2004

Faith or Fate?

I hadn't seen a recent piece from the New York Times until The Regular pointed to it. It's quite lengthy, but it gives a sense of the importance that Christianity can have on the life of a politician, particularly a U.S. President.

Compare this from January of this year in which evangelical politician Pat Robertson predicted a big win this November for President Bush, based on a message Robertson says he received from the Lord. It's very difficult to argue with someone when they say such things. A message from the Lord can be a very subjective experience.

Then there's this. Pat Robertson has claimed the Lord gave him a message concerning the pitfalls of a war in Iraq and claimed that President Bush told him (Robertson) that there would be no casualties in Iraq. The backlash from these statements was immediate from Scott McClellan and others who handle press and public relations for the White House.

A couple of weeks ago there was this piece. The person who wrote it felt that Pat Robertson's words and actions are seen by some as the workings of a religious bigot with an eye toward carving Israeli/Palestinian conflicts into his version of the Apocalypse.

Politicians simply must deal with ethics and morality from time to time. While many of us value the concept of the separation of church and state, we also have to see that individual beliefs play a heavy role in the lives of politicians, in their personal lives, in their associations with others and in their decisions for our country. Many Christians who are conservatives believe that the best political leaders are those who are Christian conservatives. This is the yardstick by which they measure a person's fitness to lead others in the political arena. But conservative Christians must admit that their own lives don't always include the best choices. Automatically expecting a Christian in politics to do the right thing for the right reason a hundred percent of the time could actually be a very dangerous assumption.

Christians, by virtue of the whole concept of salvation, want God to be vindicated, triumphant, and proven correct in the end. And we want to be on that bandwagon that takes us right along to that victory party where "every knee shall bow". Just thinking about it is a rush for a human who struggles to battle what we believe is a world gone quite mad from the ravages of sin. We want to know that when this is all over there is something that makes sense and that we will finally get to be with the One who loves us through all of it and who will dry our tears and invite us to sit with Him on his throne. We know we struggle here, but we use our faith to see down the road. (I'm using the male pronoun here because it's simpler than trying to describe all aspects of someone whose existence encompasses both known genders and more.)

And what good is having a faith-based life if we aren't confident about the One in whom we place our trust? But sometimes there's a fine line between faith and presumption. Faith is actually a very humbling experience in which we learn to subjugate the dark side of our humanity and allow a loving God to call out the best in us for His purpose. He encourages us to reflect goodness. Presumption, by contrast, glorifies the selfish side of a person and blocks out the real relationship with God, except for a cursory thought now and then to reinforce one's own desires. Even well-meaning persons of faith can be drawn into this trap, so that instead of making God's mission our mission we make our mission God's mission. This way of thinking can demonize our human brothers and sisters and can cause us to presuppose that anyone who disagrees with us is actually disagreeing with the Lord himself. Taken to an extreme, this type of view demands that certain events (which further our picture of the great spiritual conflict in the world) become prophetic and possibly even inevitable. Taken to the most dangerous conclusion, one might become completely devoid of love, blind to God's true will, and end up heading down the same selfish path as the Satan we Christians claim to denouce.

If I see anything in all this, it's that I need to keep watch over my own agendas in life if I want my walk with the Lord to be one of faith and not fate.

posted at: 10:18 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

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